Fake Reviews Can Get You Sued

Car site Edmunds.com has had it up to here with fake reviews of car dealerships — and is suing a company it says is dishing them out.

The site has flagged more than 2,000 registered users as likely fake reviewers created by an online reputation company called Humankind, Time says. Humankind operates GlowingReviews.co, an “automated online ratings & reviews” site that charges $25 a month or more to post reviews to sites including Yelp, Google+, Foursquare and Edmunds.

Edmunds filed suit to force Glowing Reviews to stop because it says the site is blatantly breaking Edmunds’ terms of service. Time notes that the Glowing Reviews FAQ page outright asks whether it is breaking the rules and answers, “In general, the review sites state that you must be posting for yourself and not for someone else. So in these cases the answer would be yes.”

Its excuse:

Take [search engine optimization] as an example. Every link that you build to your site, every fiverr gig that you buy, every article you publish on EZine Articles is violating Google TOS. In fact, anything you do to help improve your site’s ranking violates Google terms. Every business plays in this grey area and this service just lets you do it much more efficiently.

Actually, Google encourages SEO, although not by posting fake reviews. It should also be noted that online reviews are important: Studies at Harvard and Cornell have found measurable increases in revenue for restaurants and hotels that improved their ratings by one star, Time says. Another study says that 90 percent of consumers are influenced by reviews.

“We completely disagree with the assertion that we are posting fraudulent reviews online,” Humankind owner Justin Anderson told Time. It just tells businesses how to solicit reviews, and then posts those reviews through accounts the company created, he says.

That doesn’t explain why users can’t post the reviews themselves, of course. Guess they’ll figure that one out in court.

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